At last word, the ice in the Little Fork River had pushed north to White's Bridge just outside of Littlefork. That means it will push into the Rainy River very soon, and the Big Fork River will do the same. When the Forks break out, water clarity in Rainy River drops and there will be debris and ice floes to dodge. That usually means a bit less fishing pressure for a few days.
Meanwhile, ramps on the Rainy have been busy and word is the walleye fishing is very good. This spring, it is a catch-and-release extended walleye season on Rainy River, but you can still keep some fish.
Northern Pike, crappie and smallmouth bass seasons are open continuous on our border waters. On Rainy River, all northern pike between 30 and 40 inches must be released immediately. You can keep a total of three and one can be over 40 inches. You can keep 10 crappie and 6 smallmouth bass.
It's worth checking out the forest at this time of year too, the forestry roads are generally open and wildlife is stirring. If you listen, you can hear grouse drumming to attract a mate. Songbirds are arriving from the south as are all sorts of waterfowl.
Birders will have improved access this summer. the Polar Polers Ski Club has started construction on a boardwalk over the wetland at the head of their Tilson Creek Trail system. That will provide access to several miles of trails through quite a bit of varied habitat. The likelihood of spotting wildlife is pretty good, especially at this time when the trees have not yet filled out creating dense cover.
Another option for getting out into nature is to check on the waterfalls, where spring runoff is thundering through with a roar, and providing great photo opportunities. I suggest hiking around the hundreds of yards long cascades on the Big Fork at Big Falls, or checking the narrow restriction of Vermilion Falls just south of Crane Lake. Both have great trails and adequate parking areas.
This post was brought to you by Rainy Lake Guide Association.